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Black wildebeest.jpg

A large and distinctive antelope, the black wildebeest (Connochaetes gnou) is the southernmost species of its genus. Its northern relative, the blue wildebeest (Connochaetes taurinus), is well known for its spectacular migrations, but the remaining black wildebeest populations no longer migrate. The black wildebeest is a dark brown- to black-bodied antelope with an erect mane. This species gets one of its common names, ‘white-tailed gnu’, from its long white tail, which is black only at the base. Both male and female black wildebeest have heavy, forward-curving horns, which in mature males are expanded at the base to form a shield over the top of the head. Black wildebeest calves are born with shaggy, fawn-coloured fur. The head of the black wildebeest is large and boxy, and the face, throat and chest are covered in bristly tufts of long, black hair. The front end of the black wildebeest’s body is heavily built, and the shoulders are higher than the hindquarters. The black wildebeest can be distinguished from the blue wildebeest (C. taurinus) by its white rather than black tail. The alternative name of these two species, ‘gnu’, comes from the male’s characteristic nasal call, described as ‘ge-nu’. The black wildebeest was nearly exterminated in the 19th century, but is now recovering and has been reintroduced into parts of its former range.



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